Yesterday was the day it was going to happen. My beloved Piteň HC were going to secure a place in Superallsvenskan, which would have been their biggest triumph in nealy 20 years. Home game against rivals Skellefteň AIK, an arena sold out since nearly a week and a Piteň team in good form.
So what happened? Piteň lost the game 1-7!!! I haven't been so upset over a hockey game since the famous Olympic quarterfinal fiasco against Belarus in Salt Lake City.
The thing that annoyed me the most was that Piteň outshot Skellefteň by 27-19 in the first two periods, yet they were trailing 1-7! Unbelievable! And this is with Michal Zajkowski starting in goal who before last nights game had a save percentage of 0.927 best in NHA by a healthy margin. The final period was scoreless. Thank god I couldn't get tickets to the game
This loss is going to take some time to get over. There is still a slim chance for Piteň to advance to Superallsvenskan, but that calls for Vallentuna (dead last) to beat AIK in the final game - not going to happen.
Piteň have a couple of really good players, though they're not very famous outside of the NHA. I agree with Predatore that Skellefteň will probably attempt to acquire Berglund/Olofsson for next season. They've both been excellent this season (Berglund in particular). I remember how amazed I was when Skellefteň chose not to renew Berglund's contract a couple of years ago and Piteň snapped him up. The first line in Piteň (Berglund-Lavander-Olofsson) has averaged about three goals per game which is pretty darn good. The signing of Zajkowski has also proven to be very valuable for Piteň - even though he was crap last night, he has been their best player so far this season.
Now, I won't deny that I'm biased when it comes to Piteň, but I think it's a shame that they probably won't be promoted to the Superallsvenskan because they're one of the few teams in the NHA that actually play an attractive, offensive game of hockey. Skellefteň is probably the only other NHA team that manages to do this, but I have a feeling that Skellefteň can play this way simply because they are so dominant, and that they'll change their style of play after the christmas break.
What Piteň is badly missing is a big, heavy power forward - the team barely has a player that weighs more than 90 kgs in their lineup. A bit ironic that the team that produced Mikael Renberg and Tomas Holmstr÷m is lacking in the power forward department